Nov 7, 2019
Let's start with terminology. What is the difference between a turnaround and a shutdown? The main difference lies in the timing. Turnarounds are events that are scheduled long in advance after meticulous planning, while shutdowns happen suddenly in emergencies. In both turnarounds and shutdowns, however, the nature of the scope of work implies that services will be shut down, if temporary. During these stoppages, the pant's key processing units will be shut down or in some cases, the entire facility.
It can be used to improve plant maintenance, schedule needed major capital upgrades. These tasks are complex and require the assistance of contractors and safety consultants to assist in providing a turnkey approach to shutdowns and turnarounds.
When safety consultants are brought in to perform a turnaround promptly, they are presented with several obstacles right off the bat. Turnarounds create anxiety for plant managers as the success or failure can significantly affect the bottom line of the business. These facility upgrades can incur surprises which can be costly to fix. Even after the turnaround is completed, additional issues can crop up when the plant facility is brought back online.
How do these safety consultants and contractors overcome these obstacles? The methods applied to these turnarounds differ from the typical planning of an oil refinery, plant or construction project. Events within a turnaround must be planned down the to the minute as opposed to weeks, days, or even shifts.
To give you an idea of what it takes to make a successful turnaround, here are some simple steps a contractor must follow to complete the complicated project and return the plant and facility to full production capacity.
Examine the total scope of the turnaround. Has this been performed previously or is this is the first time for such an operation? Is the plant equipment being replaced or just maintained? Perhaps new technology is being implemented? These are just a few of the questions asked by a turnaround consultant during the discovery stage of the operation.
When new equipment is being installed or upgraded, vendors will bring their wealth of experience and familiarity with these installs. Reach out to the vendor and inquire about the level of support staff they will be providing. Have they been a part of your turnaround planning before? Do they have spare parts at the ready in case there is breakage during the installation process?
Having recent inspection reports that lead up to the shutdown or turnaround can be invaluable resources in project planning. Potential problem areas will come into view as will the thoroughness of planning by internal teams within the facility.
Work with all the teams that will have a part in the plant turnaround success. Knowing who all the key decision-makers are ahead of time will mitigate any surprises moving forward. It would be a shame to have to undo a costly decision because it didn't get the sign-off from a particular stakeholder.
Even the most meticulously planned turnarounds can suffer from runaway scope issues. The overall goal is to decrease the turnaround scope by performing key maintenance tasks ahead of the scheduled turnaround. Can some of the work be postponed until after the project is completed? Turnarounds consultants stress that every dollar pushed to either before or after the turnaround takes place will make for a more structured and efficient turnaround in the long run.
Turnarounds are scheduled events, while shutdowns are emergency events that are rarely, if ever, planned. In both cases, this scope of work completely shuts down a plant’s important processing unit or even the entire plant. Unique capital upgrades and common maintenance occurs in complex operations such as refineries, petrochemical plants, power plants, and pulp and paper mills. These activities are so broad and time-challenged, plant managers hire contractors to provide a turnkey solution to the turnaround’s scope.
Contractors hired to execute turnarounds face three challenges. Turnarounds are the most significant portion of a plant’s yearly maintenance budget and can affect the company’s bottom line if mismanaged. These complex upgrades often encounter significant surprises requiring quick field decisions to rectify. And after the initial installation, there can be additional plant issues as the process moves online towards full production.